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Sydney's flagship public talks program heads to India

22 November 2019
The University of Sydney has taken its flagship public talks program, Sydney Ideas, to India. It is the first time Sydney Ideas has been taken overseas, and audiences in Delhi and Mumbai had the opportunity to hear from prominent University of Sydney academics.

Smart cities in India – the intersection of urbanism and telecommunications

Portrait photo of Dr Tooran Alizadeh

Dr Tooran Alizadeh

“The Government of India is developing 100 smart cities as we speak. The development of 100 smart cities is the core of what is called ‘Smart Cities Mission in India’ and it is supported by a budget of over US$16 billion.

“I study smart cities in India, to understand how they are planned and who they are for. India is home to about 20 percent of the world’s population, 30 percent of the Global South, with significant influence in Asia and beyond. Therefore, any knowledge produced on smart cities in India could potentially reconceptualise how we understand smart cities around the world.

“My team and I have been able to collect empirical data from Pune, Solapur, Mumbai and Thane. We have visited smart city sites, gone through the relevant policy documents, and interviewed a number of urban planners, city officials, NGOs and consultants. We have plans to conduct research in Chennai, Bhubaneswar, Ahmedabad and Bangalore in the next few months.”

Energy consumption and production in India and Australia

Portrait photo of Dr Girish Lakhwani

Dr Girish Lakhwani

“India and Australia are booming economies that have flourished on the use of coal. Australia is one of the largest producers of it and India has been one of the largest consumers. We are all facing climate changes, be it bushfires happening in New South Wales in Australia or polluted air in North India.

“In my research, I use organic molecules to find solutions for energy management including energy harvesting, transport and finding efficient lighting solutions.

“To give you an example, solar panels that you have on the roofs of your houses are made of silicon, which, while is very efficient in energy harvesting, it can only tap a rather small part of the solar spectrum. In my research together with collaborative partners within Australia, we use organic molecules that are cheap to make and highly tunable that can assist harvest a much larger part of the solar spectrum especially in the visible region.”

Corporate leadership and Gandhian virtue ethics: an Australian reflection

Portrait photo of Professor John Shields

Professor John Shields

“The Australian Government’s Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry revealed an abject failure of leadership on the part of executives and board members - and regulators entrusted with keeping the sector honest.

“The community’s faith in some of the country’s biggest corporations has been damaged – perhaps beyond repair. The time has come for the light of a different ethical framework to be shone on corporate Australia.

“Why not take a closer look at those principles of Gandhianism:

  • Authenticity (as opposed to celebrity and conceit)
  • Transparency (as opposed to deceit and subterfuge)
  • Integrity (as opposed to intrigue and insincerity) 

“And to me, this all adds up to the Gandhian notion of TRUSTEESHIP. Leadership is entrusted by those who ‘follow’; it is not ordained by any higher authority; it is not a right arising from one’s superiority, talent or merit. It is a bond of trust and committed stewardship.”

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